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Counties to control charcoal industry, manage forests

County governments are set to control the Sh30 billion charcoal industry and manage forests that were previously run by the local authorities after the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) devolved nine of its functions.

The agency’s acting director Emilio Mugo said counties will take up the role of controlling charcoal burning, its taxation and movement to markets.

The county governments will also oversee the use of private forests and farmlands and will have the authority to license residents to cultivate in un-gazetted lands.

He said the forest department had already completed sensitisation programmes to empower county governments and strengthen their capacity in management of forests.

Speaking last week in Nairobi, Mr Mugo stressed that partnership between KFS and the county governments in the implementation of policy on national forests, legislation and the rules and regulations developed under the Forest Act, 2005 would have to be strictly adhered to.

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According to the Kenya Gazette Supplement No 116 of August 9, 2013, specific forestry functions, among them farm forestry extension services, forests and game reserves that were formerly managed by local authorities were identified as being the ones to be devolved.

“However, gazetted forests and National Water Towers Agency will remain under the national government,” he said.

He said counties will be expected to set up measures for increasing forest cover by ensuring there are enough extension services.

The official, asked County Assemblies to enact relevant legislation in conformity with their local needs and aspirations.

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